Updated: Feb 19
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Third Person Survival Horror
Release: April 3rd, 2020
Never has there been a more apt (or perhaps not) time to release a game centered around a viral induced pandemic, sweeping across a city. Coming in hot off the heels of the wildly successful Resident Evil 2 remake early last year, Capcoms RE: 3 comes roaring out of the gate demanding your attention, a bit like the titular Nemesis himself and today we’re taking a look at how the reanimated single-player campaign stacks up, so let’s dive right in!
Note: This is a review of the campaign only, I wanted to give myself time to try out the separate multiplayer Resident Evil: Resistance mode, so tune back in to CGC for part 2....soon...ish!
Originally released in 1999, and also hot off the heels of another RE:2; Nemesis follows ex S.T.A.R.S agent Jill Valentine (see what I did there?) as she attempts to make her way out of the forever on fire Raccoon City and survive the onslaught of zombie infested nasties that shamble, crawl and creep the streets. The story takes place, just before and a little after, the events of the second game and while you won’t be running into either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield from that game here, you’ll be in for a horrifying trip down memory lane once more. Re-visiting familiar locations like the infamous Police Station, pre Mr. X shenanigans, and viewing other locales from alternate routes and perspectives, anyone who played last year’s remake will feel comfortable slipping into Jill’s shoes.
Another deviation from the previous entry is the dual character playthroughs, there is no A and B plot here to see different perspectives of the same events (RE:2 nods not withstanding). You will only be playing as Jill, with the odd jump to Carlos, Jill’s ally and a member of the U.B.C.S, an Umbrella task force sent in to deal with the outbreak in a not so clandestine way.
And with the most fantastic hair I might add
So, How Does It Work?
Resident Evil’s plots have never been much to write home about, often dealing with classic, bad company is bad and easy to spot “oh no that clearly evil guy on our team turned on us, how unexpected!!” cliché moments but it wouldn't be Resi without it. Nemesis is no exception here and if there’s one thing these recent remakes have done well, it's in the characterization of these characters. Like Leon and Claire before her, Jill is nicely fleshed out here, not so much in the dialogue but more in her general portrayal. She moves with purpose, there’s a confidence to the character that shines in everything she does and how she tackles the terror before her, especially Nemesis himself and it’s awesome to watch. I feel it’s important to sympathize/empathize with the protagonist of any medium if you want to be invested in the story, no matter how bonkers and RE: 3 makes it work.
Even Carlos, having only been a bare-bones supporting character originally, gets some time to shine. While pretty much all his dialog should have stayed in the 90’s (he constantly refers to Jill as a “tall glass of water” #defnotflirting) the time we spend with him in his sections is oddly endearing. I found myself rooting for these people. This also extends to minor characters stories. Previously only read about in lore pickups or shuffled off this mortal coil very quickly after meeting them in RE: 2. There's more if not brief moments to chew one here, such as the bitten cop Marvin Branagh that Leon meets at the start of his story to the likes of Kendo, a character mentioned in notes only, gets a rather touching scene here that to this casual observer, plays very well and unexpectedly.
But game-play is king right? And this entry comes with some minor tweaks to the formula that help keep things fresh. For one, there’s a lot more action here. We’re at the height of the outbreak and zombies are everywhere so you’ll often be coming up against a group, which helps solidify that feeling of a city-wide outbreak. To help manage this better, Jill is able to dodge enemy attacks and if timed correctly rolling out of the way of danger that can in turn open up enemies to counterattack. Gone is the slow build up of weapons through the course of the entire campaign (as the hero becomes more capable in the story), within the first few sections of the game I was armed to the teeth, Jill doesn’t f*** around. There’s plenty of ammo and bodies to drop to boot.
Actual footage of Jill not giving two s****
The further emphasis on action also includes environmental hazards like electrical boxes and explosive barrels for crowd (and more importantly, Nemesis) control that give you even more options in combat. But it also means a distinct lack of impossibly illogical puzzles that are a staple of the franchise. This may hurt your enjoyment if you enjoy these but given the bolt neck pace of the plot, I never felt like they were sorely missed and there are a few thrown in throughout the campaign so they’re not completely missing.
The encounters with Nemesis are moments to remember. More so than Mr.X before him, Nemesis is an unstoppable (or is he?) force of nature that constantly hounds Jill throughout the story. It adds to the sense of pace the story demands, suddenly the horror isn't just coming from the shambling zombies or other such creatures around you, it's the constant fear that he could ruin an already awful night for you at any moment. He's stronger, faster and actually smarter than the previously mentioned Mr.X. There was more than one occasion where, either from my own panicked stupidity or better AI, Nemesis flanked me as I tried to outsmart him. While the quieter moments do still give that gradual build up of tension and release, the presence of Nemesis is always apparent and the boss fight segments that intersperse his hunt for you feel like a great release, with all the firepower at your disposal you just want to put this thing down once and for all!
It Pretty Though
I’d also be remiss not to give a shout out to the RE Engine that powers these games. It should come as no surprise to franchise familiars that this game is gorgeous. The level design does an incredible job of immersing you in the world, it feels like a city in the midst of chaos. From the manic streets with burnt out cars, poor attempts at fencing off the zombie hordes and blood and fire everywhere. To the indoor locales like the aforementioned Police Station and Hospital with the mangled interiors and hopelessly poor lighting. Seeing people other than hardened soldiers scatter as zombies and other more…maneuverable creatures ravage residents (patented heh) really adds a sense of place that I feel tops RE: 2 in a way I didn’t think was possible this time last year.
As before creature designs are grotesque and unnerving. The added variety is another welcome addition as RE: 3 brings back and expands on enemy types to leave your mouth agape as you gawk at the next in a line of increasingly unsettling creatures such as the hunters as they make a beeline for your flesh.
Quick Note: SLIGHT VISUALLY RELATED SPOILER
Nemesis and his many forms you encounter are also an equal measure of horror and god damn cool. As much as I was desperately running for my life whenever he appeared, every time he is on screen I just wanted to stop and examine the stretched and mangled skin or the bones protruding from his spine and so on. When Capcom showed off the first image of the updated model, I was a bit skeptical but in motion it’s a different story, he’s terrifying and gets worse...
And the Verdict?
Looking at everything in perspective with this franchise, Capcom has been killing it in the last few years. It completely up ended the series with Resident Evil 7. Changing perspectives / characters / locales / everything and made us remember why we fell in love with RE to begin with. They follow that up then with a remake of the beloved Resident Evil 2 and not only modernize the game but manage to do so with great respect for the original. Bringing in a new generation of fans and proving this series still has a lot to offer.
For me Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is no different. Getting another chance to go back to Raccoon City was a blast start to finish. The only real caveats I can think of is the game, by virtue of not having multiple characters to playthrough like before, is much much shorter than its predecessor. Clocking in about 5 to 7 hours depending on how willing you are to take in the scenery. If you’re looking for something with a bit more meat on its bones than the single player campaign might not be enough for you and there's not much incentive to play again outside of some small unlocks and difficulty modes. This game is for those who are already all the way in for this series. It adds a tiny bit more to the overarching story and some game-play tweaks but if you have never been quite convinced, I'm not sure this one will change your mind, so...
Play this game if…
· You want a gorgeous trip down memory lane
· You enjoy a fine blend of action and horror
· You’re seeing….STAAAAARRRRRRSSS… (I’m so sorry)
· You don’t need an excuse to shoot a zombie
Comment your thoughts below or follow us on the CGC: Casual Game Community